There is not doubt that Arsenal were poor on Saturday – they were lifeless, listless, and looked ‘jaded’ as the manager claimed they were in his post-match interview.
The defeat couldn’t have come at a worse time for the manager – last week Wenger was the subject of a media storm that brewed off the back of their 0-0 draw with Aston Villa the previous weekend.
Reports of fans booing and chanting ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ escalated an on-going discontent amongst the Arsenal faithful who, as the trophiless seasons mount, have become increasingly disillusioned, dissatisfied, and frustrated.
What the manager and the club really needed was a home game against weaker opposition and to bounce back with a solid win under their belts to build on. Enter Michu in the 88th minute.
Swansea’s Spanish maestro put the game to bed and collected a second goal just two minutes later on 90 minutes. Swansea are not weaker opposition by any means – they currently sit in 7th place in the Premier League while Arsenal have now dropped down to 10th – their hopes of making the top-four by May are slowing slipping away.
Wenger has built a reputation on his calm and considered approach to team talks and his communication with his players – in fact, according to many of them, he rarely takes charge of the team talks. His assistant, formerly Pat Rice and now Steve Bould are understood to handle those.
I therefore can’t envisage Wenger breaking a career-long tradition to launch a tirade at his players – I can, however, see Bould doing that and, according to three of Monday’s papers he ‘blasted’ the team and told them they’d ‘let the club down’.
But then there’s the question of who exactly heard this ‘rant’ and told the papers – I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist but I tend to think that when three different papers are running the story as ‘exclusive’, they have got a hold of this information from somewhere and I’m inclined to suggest this is an Arsenal public relations exercise.
The fans want action, they want answers, and they want someone to blame – this story provides a little of each. But not enough – whilst the Arsenal manager and his staff might be keen to offload the blame on to their player who, on the day, were very poor – there has to be questions asked about why there is such an institutionalized lack of motivation and mental weakness in the squad and, furthermore, why there is only one recognized striker to choose from?
These are questions the manager has to answer and no amount of supposed dressing room dress-downs can paper over the cracks at Arsenal’s who, at this point, looks to be every bit a club in crisis – from the board, to the manager, to the squad, and the fans. It’s going to take more than one rant to sort this mess out.
image: © crystian cruz